Why the FDA Tobacco Law is just the beginning

In June the FDA Tobacco regulation bill was passed by Congress and signed into law by the President. This landmark bill will make it tougher for Big Tobacco to market their deadly product towards children and make false claims regarding “safe” and “reduced risk” cigarettes. It will also force tobacco companies to disclose all of the ingredients in cigarettes including the hundreds of harmful additives.

When the government passed the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act numerous years ago, states across the country were prohibited from taking any action against advertising or labeling of tobacco products for health reasons. With the recent passage of the FDA tobacco regulation bill on the national level, states now have rights to take regulatory action for public health in the marketing and advertising of tobacco products.

States now have the ability to impact control over public health aspects of tobacco labeling and advertising including:

• Supplement the new FDA requirement that all retail ads for cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products consist only of black text on white background, applying the same restrictions to cigar and other tobacco products.

• Limit the number or size of tobacco product ads at retail outlets.

• Require that tobacco product or tobacco product ads be kept away from cash registers in order to reduce impulse purchases by smokers trying to quit.

• Restrict or eliminate “power walls” being offered for sale at retail outlets (which will be the only remaining presentation of cigarettes after the FDA

It is important to note that all restrictions of tobacco product ads must still comply with the First Amendment protections for commercial speech.

In addition, by taking action in regards to the marketing and advertising of tobacco products, states still have within their purview to pass comprehensive smoke-free air laws, adequately fund state smoking cessation programs and restrict the sale and distribution of tobacco products.


Richardson open to looking at some tax credits, incentives to close budget gap

Gov. Bill Richardson said today that, while he doesn’t want to scale back 2003 tax cuts or the film incentive program, he may be willing to put an end to some other tax credits and incentives.

“We need to take a look at them, to look to see if some may have outlived their usefulness,” Richardson was quoted by the New Mexico Independent as saying.

Richardson and lawmakers must agree on a way to plug a $433 million shortfall in the current budget. The governor has said he’ll call lawmakers into special session for that purpose in November.

Richardson has said he wants a deal in place before the session begins, and he wants the session to last one day. To that end, he told the Independent that he has named members of his staff to a negotiating team, and he expects lawmakers to do the same.

There will be some resistance to finalizing a fix before the session begins. Some rank-and-file lawmakers have told me they want to make sure they have a chance to represent their constituents in the process, and that the deliberations are open. That’s exactly what the public legislative process is designed to do.

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